|WHAT||Michigan v. Penn State|
|WHERE||University Park, PA|
January 7th, 2010
|THE LINE||Michigan +1.5*|
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
Michigan came into the season with a lofty ranking and proceeded to drop a winnable games left and right. Part of the blame for that may have been going from the hunter to the hunted. The team got complacent. "Understanding success is more difficult than understanding why we played so poorly against Indiana," said John Beilein. Now that the Wolverines are coming off an emotional high against Ohio State, it's important to remain hungry. Beilein: "The overconfidence carried over a little bit, so we had to set that straight in practice."
Two other important factors for Michigan will be more tangible: continuing to get production from members of the team other than Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims, and expanding the amount of time for bench players. "Darius [Morris], Matt [Vogrich] gave us a lift off the bench, Zack Gibson, hopefully those guys will just keep giving us more," said Beilein.
For his part, Morris is comfortable coming off the bench. "I'm able to see before I go right into it what they're running on offense," he said, "and how certain players aren't guarding screens properly, and I make that adjustment when I go in the game."
The Nittany Lions are 8-6 on the year and have lost both of their conference game (at Minnesota and home against Wisconsin). Outside the conference, they've played one heck of a weak schedule, and losing to historic programs like UNC-Wilmington and Tulane. They've also got respectable losses to Temple and Virginia Tech, though the Tech loss came at home. The only top-100 squad that they've beaten is Virginia. Michigan must win to have even a vague chance of a tournament bid.
Any discussion of Penn State's roster starts and ends with Talor Battle, with a few words about some other guys sprinkled in the middle. "They've surrounded him with more shooters again, just like they have in the past," said Beilein. It's clear that Battle is the lifeblood of this team. Zack Novak: "He's really talented and we definitely have to contain him."
Battle is top-20 in percentage of available minutes played, uses more possessions than anyone else on the roster, and has the team's second-best assist rate. Other important Nittany Lions include big men David Jackson, Jeff Brooks and Andrew Jones, who are 1-2-3 in effective field goal percentage on the team. They're the leaders in playing time outside of Battle. 6-10 Jones is the leading rebounder on both ends of the floor.
Penn State doesn't have a single senior on their roster, so Michigan may have an experience advantage for once. "That's the thing we're searching for now, that poise," said Beilein. PSU lost Stanley Pringle and Jamelle Cornley off last year's roster. They're feeling both departures.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Penn State: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Penn State Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. PSU Def eFG%||194||133||P|
|Mich Def eFG% v. PSU eFG%||198||135||P|
|Mich TO% v. PSU Def TO%
|Mich Def TO% v. PSU TO%||51||39||P|
|Mich OReb% v. PSU DReb%
|Mich DReb% v. PSU OReb%||270||192||P|
|Mich FTR v. PSU Opp FTR
|Mich Opp FTR v. PSU FTR
|Mich AdjO v. PSU AdjD||77||114||M|
|Mich AdjD v. PSU AdjO||98||94||-|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
The statistical matchup is interesting here, with huge advantages in a couple categories for both teams. Penn State has a consistent advantage overall. Michigan should be able to hold onto the ball, Penn State should be able to rebound most of Michigan's misses, and the Nittany Lions won't likely send Michigan to the line a lot.
If Michigan wants to win this game, they'll have to continue the defensive renaissance that started with Kansas, took a game off against Indiana, and returned with a vengeance against Ohio State courtesy of surprising Diebler-stopper Stu Douglass. Michigan held the Buckeyes below 45% eFG, after allowing previous opponents to shoot above 50% (and letting Jon Diebler start the game 4/6 on 3-pointers). The Wolverines, despite forcing a lot of opponent turnovers, actually won't have the advantage coming into this game. All of the teams Penn State has lost to have been heavy on man defense, so that may not play into Michigan's advantage.
This game could play out a lot like the Indiana game. If both Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims show up to play, the Wolverine will have a chance to win. They need will require a 40-minute effort to come away with a win. When Penn State goes on a run, Michigan needs to answer. "We just need to keep our poise and become more solid," said Novak, "rather than coming down and thinking 'they're making a run, we need to make the spectacular play." Alas, this looks like another close loss for Michigan on the road.
Beilein gave an endorsement of Brandon's credentials as an athletics guy and not just a businessman as well, saying, "I think he took care of that in the interview process, if there was a concern."